Dantalian no Shoka 07 — Drug Dealers

Nooooooo!!!!

In one of the most strait-laced episodes of Dantalian to date, Huey and Dalian encounter a perfumer who is (unwillingly) selling a drug she created with the aid of a phantom book. Huey and Dalian arrive just in time to witness her family and coworkers killed by the gang they collaborated with. They witness the woman take her own life and destroy the recipe and phantom book in an act of “atonement.”

Heightened Emotional Involvement

I’ve complained in the past that Huey and Dalian have shown almost no emotional attachment to the cases they’ve been involved in. This may be the first time Dalian has truly become emotionally involved with the people she met. She even shed tears at the woman’s death. And this was the same woman who, horror of horrors, dropped Dalian’s precious bread on the floor.

Dalian even attempted to comfort the woman on her deathbed. As she travels with Huey, is she becoming more attached to the outside world and the passions of the flesh?

A Deeper Magic from before the Dawn of Time

I believe that this is the first time we’ve heard mention of limitations placed on Dalian’s powers as a mystical library. The limitation is that Dalian cannot use a phantom book to save the same life twice. A restriction like this is not all that surprising— powers such as Dalian’s always seem to come with strings attached.

Passerby through Eternity

Jesus said, “Be passerby.”

— The Gospel of Thomas, v. 42

 

He has set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

— Ecclesiastes 3:11

In each of the earlier episodes, I was surprised at how small a role Huey and Dalian played in resolving the short stories. Yet now I have come to expect it. There is indeed a purpose to Huey and Dalian’s uselessness. They are powerless and impotent bystanders to history, not actors on the stage of time.

The show’s atmosphere provides an acute sense of timelessness and of isolation, both from the scenes with the girl in the library and from Huey and Dalian’s travels. Huey and Dalian don’t form intimate bonds with the people they meet, and many of the people they do meet happen to die. Huey and Dalian have not been able to prevent any of the tragedies brought about by the phantom books or by magic, only to mitigate their effects. The pair continues to travel without a destination or clear purpose. And who knows how many generations Dalian has journeyed for?

References

  • When Huey reads the book of healing, Huey mentions “Arawn, the king of the otherworld Annwn.” This makes the book most likely part of the Mabinogion.
  • The phantom book used for making perfumes is an unnamed Gandharva sacred text. The Gandharva are Hindu nature spirits which dwell in scents and are known for their skill with music.
  • I don’t think I ever mentioned the origins of the library of Dantalian. Dantalian is one of the 72 demons of Solomon mentioned in the grimoire, the Lesser Key of Solomon.

    The Seventy-first Spirit is Dantalion. He is a Duke Great and Mighty, appearing in the Form of a Man with many Countenances, all Men’s and Women’s Faces; and he hath a Book in his right hand. His Office is to teach all Arts and Sciences unto any; and to declare the Secret Counsel of any one; for he knoweth the Thoughts of all Men and Women, and can change them at his Will. He can cause Love, and show the Similitude of any person, and show the same by a Vision, let them be in what part of the World they Will. He governeth 36 Legions of Spirits; and this is his Seal, which wear thou, etc.

  • A similar idea for a mystical library is the subject of Borges’ short story The Library of Babel (Spanish original here). Borges’ library, however, contains all possible books, and not merely Dalian’s comparatively tiny subset of 900,666.

9 thoughts on “Dantalian no Shoka 07 — Drug Dealers

  1. The question becomes: how come she knew about the two times saving a life deal? Did she actually try to save someone’s life through her perfumes, mess up, try to do it again and found out that way? Interesting to ponder as a side note.

    I’m starting to need an overarching plot now. Really felt it this episode (i guess the girl inside the book thing is the plot, but that leaves kinda whatever)..

    1. I was thinking it was a restriction on Dalian’s use of phantom books and not on phantom books in general, but now that you mention it it could be either way. If the restriction were on Dalian, the woman seemed to know Dalian’s identity, so knowing her abilities would be somewhat reasonable. Also, that one book kept resurrecting that couple repeatedly, although that isn’t quite the same thing as preventing a death. 🙂

      Still, I wouldn’t be surprised hearing how many people that woman killed with her perfumes. Her perfume combat skills are crazy, if she’d been in the other house that gang would have been wiped out.

      They do need to get moving with an overall plot though… they’ve just passed the halfway point and are running out of time.

  2. Definitely some admirable traits in the epsiode beyond the usual vignettes, however due to the directors visions, they sort of watered it down in my opinion. Still present, but had to be playing close attention.

    Like how you mentioned the emphasis on time and how Dalian and Huey actually are unable to prevent the tragedies caused by the books. I think this is important in a sense to show the consequences of what the books are capable of and the lengths at which the books manipulate the people attached to them. They are seeming to take a metaphorical backseat to most of the events, but their time to add their contribution is coming soon. With that said, seems like Flam and her partner were the only ones, shown as of yet to divert a worser consequence to the Phantom Book’s usage (not actually reverting things back to normal). The Count Melgar ep for Huey/Dantalin did not count for me.

    And yup, the first reference was for the Mabinogion.. Actually one of the first chapters of the book (I remember reading it).

    1. That’s a good point— Flam and Hal actually were able to make a difference and stop the usage of a phantom book through their more heavy-handed methods. The count episode only had a good ending only if you consider everyone not dying good.

      I’m impressed that you read the Mabinogion, I’d never heard of it before. One of the fun things about blogging this series is I’ve found some interesting things to add to my reading list.

  3. Let me first start with an off-topic note: love the new layout (apologies that I’m not sure when you set it up). The Penguindrum theme is easily endearing, and the inclusion of the bug-killing penguin cracked me up.

    As for this episode of Dantalian, it seems you were not alone in finding it straightforward. Guardian Enzo of blogs Random Curiosity and Lost in America also found it “mediocre.” I, on the other hand, really liked it since it reminded me a lot of a film I saw several years ago (I talk about it in my own blog :p ).

    You talk about how ineffective to the grand scheme both Huey and Dalian are, and I have to agree with you. But, that doesn’t really bother me. One of my favorite anime, Kino no Tabi, has a similar feel since its protagonist usually visits a new country each episode and we don’t see the same characters twice.

    1. Glad you like the layout, I only added it a couple days ago.

      I actually really did like this episode, by “strait-laced” I only meant that the story’s development has become a bit more predictable than the previous episodes. But overall I’d agree that it was a good episode.

      It doesn’t bother me that Huey and Dalian are ineffective: I actually think it’s one of the show’s strongest points. I really need to go and watch Kino no Tabi one of these days.

  4. This is one of the best episodes so far…A few problems with the series in general, though:

    *The “grab the book out of her body” is cringe-inducing, especially when enemies are breathing down their neck. Shouldn’t they get attacked during this one-minute-plus ritual? That happened in eps. 2, 5, and 6.

    *Also, it’s hard to invest emotionally when you’ve only known the characters for 20 minutes.

    The pluses are the Victorian atmosphere and the opening song. Episodes 3, 4, and 7 were really good.

    1. I love the Victorian atmosphere as well. I know what you mean about the transformation sequence, but so many shows do the exact same thing and I’ve learned to suspend my disbelief.

      Thanks for commenting!

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